Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The Eastern Zone Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT), Kolkata has imposed a fine of Rs 2,500 on Chandaka DFO for allegedly not furnishing information regarding Sikharchandi hill development project.

During the hearing in the matter on Monday, the additional government advocate of Odisha, SK Nayak stated that he had just now received certain information from the Forest Department and wanted some time to bring those documents on record through affidavit. 

Hitting out at the government over the delay in the filing of the information, the tribunal said, "We fail to understand as to why the documents were not promptly filed by the State Respondents on affidavit earlier although this case has been pending since 12.06.2023 and there is also a stay order operating in the case." 

“We find that the State Government itself is delaying the matter and is not prosecuting the case sincerely and conscientiously and has only wasted the time of the Court. We, therefore, impose a personal cost of Rs.2,500/- (Rupees Two thousand Five hundred only) upon the Forest Officer, Chandaka Wildlife Forest, which shall be deposited by him with the Registrar, National Green Tribunal, Eastern Zone Bench, Kolkata within one week and only after deposit of the cost, this Court will allow fresh affidavit to be filed by the Forest Department,” read the NGT order.

The tribunal has postponed the hearing in this matter from September 11 to October 12.

Meanwhile, Chandaka and Daruthenga Sarpanch have sought a direction from NGT to the State Biodiversity Board Odisha to take steps and declare the hill a biodiversity heritage site.

“After filing the petition with the NGT, they are taking action against the erring authorities gradually. At first, the NGT imposed a fine on BDA and now they have fined the Chandaka DFO. The amount of the fine may be less, however fine is always fine,” said Sachin Mohapatra, convener of Maa Sikharchandi Anchalika Surakhya Samiti.